Police Release Mugshot of Westminster Terrorist as Schoolfriend Reveals Popular Footballer Suffered ‘Mild Racism’
Martin Robinson et al., Daily Mail, March 24, 2017
This is the first picture of the Westminster ISIS-inspired jihadi Khalid Masood as an adult in a police mugshot released by Scotland Yard today.
Masood, 52, was a career criminal with a string of convictions for violent crimes and weapons offences who was jailed twice and radicalised behind bars.
The Met released his picture as part of a public appeal for information as officers try to find out if the extremist was acting alone or helped by a wider terror network in Britain.
Today photographs of Masood as a schoolboy in affluent Tunbridge Wells also emerged where he was described as a ‘bright’ student and an outstanding footballer who had no interest in religion and ‘liked to party’.
And it was revealed he blamed racism in his village when he slashed a cafe owner across the face with a knife in 2000 after a night drinking in his local pub.
Masood, 52, was born Adrian Elms in Dartford and went to Huntleys Secondary School in Kent where he was pictured as a teenager in 1980 in the playground and before a 24-hour charity football match.
By then he had taken the name Adrian Ajao, his father Philip’s surname, and is one of at least five identities he used in his life on his pathway to terrorism.
His classmates said today they were shocked he became an ISIS-inspired terrorist who would kill four people and injure 50 on his murderous rampage outside Parliament on Wednesday.
Friend Kenton Till, who was also in the football team photo, told MailOnline his school friend suffered racism for being the only black boy but they fell out after he smoked drugs and he was thrown out of a house party.
He said: ‘We were good friends for about three of four years he was very bright, very academic and he was good sports — good at everything really. He was very good at football.
‘He wasn’t religious at all. He was a big character, very friendly and a good laugh. He might have been the only black kid at the school. He experienced a little bit of racism but not a lot because he always tried to be popular.
‘We used to socialise together up until we left school but he turned up to a party at my house with some friends after they had been smoking puff [cannabis] and my mum threw them all out. We sort of lost touch after that’.
Stuart Knight was in the same class as Masood for five years before they left in 1981.
Mr Knight, 52, said: ‘He was a very nice guy, down-to-earth, liked by everyone around him.
‘There was nothing unassuming about him, he was a very good sportsman, his mother was a Christian, he was an all-round nice guy.’
Mr Knight, of Southborough Butchers in Tunbridge Wells, said Masood had been a keen footballer and added: ‘It was a sports-orientated school so we didn’t have a choice about doing sport but he was very good.’
He continued: ‘He was very well-liked, he had a lot of friends. He was one of only two black people out of 600 children; in those days there weren’t many black people in the area.
‘I don’t know if he had girlfriends but he did party very well, he liked to have a good time.’
On hearing the news of his former classmate’s actions in London, Mr Knight added: ‘I am really shocked. I spent five years in his class at school, for him it’s totally out of character.
‘I am in shock; that is not sympathy for what he has done, he was a nice guy and I’m surprised he turned and did what he did.’
Another former schoolfriend Masood has revealed how he was a ‘cheeky lad’ who started to withdraw from his friends when he got mixed up in ‘heavy’ drugs.
The friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, met teenage Masood — then known as Adrian Ajao — through friends after his family moved to the Kent town from Sussex.
He said: ‘He was normal. He was part of the lads scene. He wasn’t an angel he was a bit of a toe-rag at times, but nothing out of the ordinary.
‘In the early years he was alright — chirpy and cheeky. One of the lads. We used to go out drinking.
‘Towards the end he got a bit out of touch. He got in to drug dealing or taking drugs. I understand he owed people money in Tunbridge Wells and disappeared.’
The friend revealed Masood was known ‘affectionately’ by his friends as ‘black Ade’, and as he moved into his late teens and early twenties was popular and well-known in pubs around the town.
He added: ‘He wasn’t a loner. He was cheeky and always had a smile on his face.’
The friend said football-loving Masood used to be a manager at the local branch of Woolworths and described him as ‘well educated’ and ‘well spoken’.
He said he thought Adrian, the oldest of three brothers, had a happy family life and they lived in a desirable road in Tunbridge Wells.
He was not religious and there was nothing to suggest he would be drawn into extremism, the friend added.
He said: “Nothing in my wildest dreams would have put him in that picture.
Even when I saw the pictures in TV I couldn’t believe it.
“I remember his favourite pub was the Roebuck in Camden Road and he moaned when it was turned into a mosque.”
But he revealed his ‘confident, outgoing’ and ‘sporty’ friend appeared to change when he got involved in drugs.
He added: ‘As he got older though he got a bit distant and lost his way and I just put that down to drugs. I knew he owed people a lot of money in Tunbridge Wells and then he just disappeared. I don’t know if he went to prison.’
Asked what drugs he thought he used, he replied: ‘Heavy. Cocaine probably.’
He said the Huntleys School pupil was not violent and never got in fights.
‘If there was a fight he was never that type of guy. He was never in the thick of things.
‘I don’t know how he could get converted to do something like that.
‘It was a huge shock. Seeing someone from years ago who used to be one of the lads — he was a bit of toerag, he wasn’t an angel — but it makes you wonder how you could change like that when you come from the same circle and the same scene.’
Today it was revealed he was nicknamed ‘the vampire’ by neighbours in the months before the terror attack because he only left his Birmingham home at night and always dressed in black.
In 2000 he sliced open Piers Mott’s face while slashing at his car in a row in the East Sussex village of Northiam. The then 35-year-old told Hove Crown Court he snapped because of racism in his local community and claimed he had been ‘ostracised’ because villagers had a certain ‘view of black people’.
Today it emerged he was nicknamed ‘the vampire’ and blamed racism for slashing a cafe owner across the face before he was jailed and converted to Islam.
Masood sliced open Piers Mott’s face while slashing at his car in a 2000 row in the East Sussex village of Northiam, where Masood, then Adrian Elms, lived with his first wife and children.
The then 35-year-old told Hove Crown Court he snapped because of racism in his local community and claimed he had been ‘ostracised’ because villagers had a certain ‘view of black people’.
Speaking today Heather Mott said her late husband, Piers Mott, needed 20 stitches in his face was not racist and had been defending a friend in the Crown and Thistle pub — but Masood said the row had ‘racial overtones’.
Masood argued for a lesser sentence because he would need to move his family out of the village but received a two year sentence. Three years later, after his release, he was jailed again for stabbing someone in the face.
The 52-year-old was born Adrian Elms in Kent and has an appalling history of violent crime including stabbing someone in the face before converting to Islam in jail and moving to Saudi Arabia.
He unleashed his murderous rampage after turning his back on his family in the Home Counties and living under five different names including Adrian Ajao and Khalid Choudry among others.
Born in Dartford on Christmas Day 1964, he was brought up in the exclusive coastal town of Rye by single mother Janet Elms before moving to Eastbourne where he amassed a lengthy list of criminal convictions.
After several jail terms the father of three later converted to Islam, changed his name to Masood and spent years living in a series of terrorist hotbeds across Britain.
At one stage he was investigated by MI5, but was considered a ‘peripheral’ figure and ‘not part of the current intelligence picture’. And he did not feature on a secret blacklist of up to 3,000 people thought to be capable of mounting an attack.
Scotland Yard today launched an urgent appeal to ask the public for help to find any accomplices as they try to piece together his path to terrorism, and revealed Masood’s fourth victim was Leslie Rhodes, 75, from Streatham, whose life support machine was switched off by his family last night.
But his neighbours in Birmingham believe it is unlikely he was working alone and described him as a ‘strange character’ and called him ‘the vampire’ because he would only come out at night wearing all black.
He was born in Dartford, Kent, on Christmas Day in 1964, to 17-year-old single mother, Janet Elms, who is estranged from her son.
She sells hand-made bags and cushions from her rural west Wales farm which was raided last night. His brothers have denied knowing him.
MailOnline revealed last night that Masood stabbed a man in the face in 2003 following a street row outside and a nursing home and was sent to prison where he turned to Islam and met
Masood, then 39, who was running a television aerial installation business at the time, also faced two charges of possessing an offensive weapon, namely a knife and a baton.
His victim required plastic surgery on his nose and Masood, then under his birth name Elms, is believed to have been sent to prison where he may have converted to Islam.
He had already spent time in Lewes jail, East Sussex, Wayland jail in Norfolk, and Ford open prison in West Sussex.
After his release from 2004 he married Muslim Farzana Malik after converting to Islam.
But even after finding religion MailOnline can reveal that his brushed with the law continued.
In 2006 he jumped out of the third floor of his home in Crawley to avoid arrest as police chased him with former neighbours in Crawley describing him as violent, abusive and generally ‘bad news’.
But despite his string of convictions for violent crimes, starting in 1983, he still appears to have secured work as an English teacher in Saudi Arabia and later Britain claiming he had a degree in economics.
A CV distributed by Masood this year claims he held an economics degree and worked for years in Saudi Arabia teaching English.
On the document, he described himself as ‘British’, ‘friendly and approachable’ and a ‘good listener’.
He stated on the document he had a TESOL qualification, which allows a person to teach English to speakers of foreign languages.
The killer said that in 2005, he was teaching English in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, to workers at the General Authority of Civil Aviation. If the claims that he lived in Saudi Arabia are true, it is possible he was radicalised there.
Masood’s CV goes on to state he returned to the UK in 2009 and joined a TEFL college in Luton as a ‘senior English teacher’, supervising seven other staff – despite serving two jail sentences, including one for grievous bodily harm.
The Department of Education have said he never held qualified status and has never taught in any state school in England.
Police confirmed he had a substantial criminal record for assaults, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.
His first conviction was for criminal damage in November 1983, when he was just 19. His last was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
He was never convicted of any offence linked to terrorism or violent extremism.
Up until Christmas, Masood lived in the Winson Green area of Birmingham where he shared a flat with a woman and their young child. Neighbours described him as a ‘very religious and well-spoken man’ who was always at the mosque on Fridays.
Iwona Romek, 45, said: ‘I saw him taking his children to school. He had a long beard like in the photo and he used to wear this long, Islamic dress.
‘I saw him with a girl, maybe five or six, and a woman who was also covered. I saw her a few times. She appeared to be Asian – she wasn’t black. She didn’t wear a burqa, she wore a blue headscarf that came all the way down. He seemed to be a very nice person.
‘When I was going out or arriving by car he was always friendly and smiling, and then he moved. I saw him taking all his things away about three months ago.’
Last night police were working around the clock to untangle the extraordinary background of the man behind the worst domestic terror attack since July 7, 2005.
Adrian Elms was born on Christmas Day 1964, in the Dartford area of Kent, to a white British mother and a black father, who were not married. Twenty years later they moved to Tunbridge Wells where they set up home with his stepfather and two half-brothers.
His mother now lives with her husband in Carmarthenshire, west Wales, where she runs an online business selling hand-made bags and cushions.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘We heard rumours early yesterday. Then police streamed up the drive to the house. I’ve heard what the connection is and I’m stunned.’
Another said she was ‘too upset’ to speak last night and her husband Philip, Masood’s father, is said be in hospital battling cancer.
It is understood Masood’s family are being comforted by friends in their detached house, a small holding on a large farm in the village of Trellech, West Wales.
By now using the surname Ajao, Masood met a woman and they had a child in 1992 before settling in the village of Northiam, near Hastings, East Sussex. What happens over the next decade is unclear, but in 2003, he was accused of stabbing a man in the face.
He was charged under his birth name with grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent after a 22-year-old man was found slumped in a driveway of a care home in Eastbourne, East Sussex. Masood, who was running a television aerial installation business at the time, also faced charges of possessing offensive weapons, namely a knife and a baton. It is not known if he was convicted.
Sarah Talman, 43, and her son Austin have lived in the house next door to the attacker’s old address in Crawley, West Sussex for a decade and remember a string of neighbours coming and going.
The house where was described as a halfway house for occupants who were in need of temporary accomodation and some were extremely violent.
It is thought the house in Crawley was Masood’s accommodation immediately after being released from prison.
Ms Talman said one couple would throw furniture against the wall in the early hours and she saw a man attempting to strangle his partner.
Austin, now 15, was often left too scared to attend school because a man threatened to unleash his dog on the schoolboy.
‘They were neighbours from hell. It was horrible,’ his mother said.
The next year, Masood cropped up in Medway, Kent, where he married a local Muslim woman. Six years later, he was living in Luton, known for its links to extremism. But neighbours said they noticed ‘nothing untoward’ as he looked after two young children and spent hours tending his garden.
Teacher Katie Garricques, 48, said: ‘I’m actually shocked that I lived across the road from someone so awful. I’m proud to be from Luton and for it to be so diverse.’
But another neighbour said: ‘He was always shy. Sometimes I would see him walking around at night.
‘I didn’t see him during the day. He was like a shadow. It was hard to tell he was living there.’
Masood then moved to Birmingham where neighbours knew him as an avid Manchester United fan. One said: ‘I used to go round there (to Masood’s house) to play football with his son, who was about seven. He had an older daughter. The dad was a big man but friendly. He would join in sometimes and show me some tricks.’
Last year, he was registered as living in a terraced house in West Ham, East London, but neighbours said they do not remember seeing him. By the time of the attack, Masood had abandoned his family and was living in a dingy bedsit above a shop in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham with several other men.
Aged in their 20s, they are believed to be among those arrested during a series of raids in London, Sussex, Birmingham and Wales yesterday.
One resident said: ‘There were definitely two men and one woman and they were fairly young. There are horrible conditions up there and there have been problems with that row of flats before.’
Earlier this month, a detailed 1,000-page study revealed Birmingham as one of the terror capitals of the world. Between 1998 and 2015, 49 of the 269 people convicted of Islamist terrorism offences or killed as suicide bombers were from the West Midlands.
Scotland Yard said: ‘Masood was also known by a number of aliases. He was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.’
Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at security think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, said: ‘We have always known that it is exceptionally hard to understand who will become a terrorist.
‘Masood is unusual in that only a minority become radicalised over the age of 30.
‘His criminal record is unsurprising, as some studies shows that a significant proportion of jihadists have had prior convictions.’